Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Chair of Metabolic Biochemistry

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Structural determinants of the C-terminal helix-kink-helix motif essential for protein stability and survival promoting activity of DJ-1

J Biol Chem 282(18): 13680-91

Authors/Editors: Gorner K
Holtorf E
Waak J
Pham TT
Vogt-Weisenhorn DM
Wurst W
Haass C
Kahle PJ
Publication Date: 2007
Type of Publication: Journal Article
Mutations in the PARK7 gene encoding DJ-1 cause autosomal recessive Parkinson disease. The most deleterious point mutation is the L166P substitution, which resides in a structure motif comprising two alpha-helices (G and H) separated by a kink. Here we subjected the C-terminal helix-kink-helix motif to systematic site-directed mutagenesis, introducing helix-incompatible proline residues as well as conservative substitutions into the helical interface. Furthermore, we generated deletion mutants lacking the H-helix, the kink, and the entire C terminus. When transfected into neural and nonneural cell lines, steady-state levels of G-helix breaking and kink deletion mutants were dramatically lower than wild-type DJ-1. The effects of H-helix breakers were comparably smaller, and the non-helix breaking mutants only slightly destabilized DJ-1. The decreased steady-state levels were due to accelerated protein degradation involving in part the proteasome. G-helix breaking DJ-1 mutations abolished dimer formation. These structural perturbations had functional consequences on the cytoprotective activities of DJ-1. The destabilizing mutations conferred reduced cytoprotection against H(2)O(2) in transiently retransfected DJ-1 knock-out mouse embryonic fibroblasts. The loss of survival promoting activity of the DJ-1 mutants with destabilizing C-terminal mutations correlated with impaired anti-apoptotic signaling. We found that wild-type, but not mutant DJ-1 facilitated the Akt pathway and simultaneously blocked the apoptosis signal-regulating kinase 1, with which DJ-1 interacted in a redox-dependent manner. Thus, the G-helix and kink are critical determinants of the C-terminal helix-kink-helix motif, which is absolutely required for stability and the regulation of survival-promoting redox signaling of the Parkinson disease-associated protein DJ-1.

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